Upscale grocery store chain Whole Foods Market has selected MediaCom, part of WPP’s GroupM, as its new media agency after a review that began last fall.
In its last annual report, the company stated that advertising expenses totaled nearly $90 million in its fiscal-year 2015. Whole Foods spends an estimated $65 million annually on media.
Previously, the Austin-based Whole Foods had worked with GSD&M (also based in Austin) for media. It was not immediately clear if the agency participated in the review.
In addition to MediaCom, the finalists are said to have included Horizon, Digitas and Butler Shine Stern & Partners.
The media review came just a short time after Whole Foods hired a new global VP of marketing, Sonya Gafsi Oblisk. Previously, a top marketing executive with Walmart, Oblisk leads Whole Foods marketing, advertising and brand development efforts.
Last spring, with same-store sales declining more than expected, Whole Foods executives told analysts on an earnings call that the company would embrace a more aggressive marketing plan.
“We are ramping up our marketing behind digital coupons, in some markets stepping up mailings to people’s homes,” John Mackey, co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Whole Foods Market, said during the call. “That marketing is the next big step. We can lower prices here and there, but if people don’t know about them, we won’t get the full lift.”
“We are doing more to invite customers into stores through advertising, digital and radio,” added co-CEO Walter Robb.
Neither MediaCom nor Whole Foods returned queries about the selection by press time.